Sydney Water selected life cycle assessment (LCA) to inform a review of its overall strategic planning document: WaterPlan 21. This assessment covered the entire business and has enabled ecological sustainability to be assessed in terms of quantitative indicators. The LCA was performed by firstly examining a base case which would eventuate if Sydney Water maintained its current operations with only the modifications, augmentations and upgrades planned for implementation between now and 2021. We then performed a number of scenario analyses to examine the benefits of additional demand management, energy efficiency, energy generation, supply augmentation and effluent quality initiatives. The results indicated significant improvements are available and that some of these measures are more desirable than others. We also examined a scenario for the alternative delivery of water and wastewater services in new urban areas. This showed quantitatively that, since connecting new fringe suburbs to the existing system requires significant expenditure on energy for pumping, major improvements in the sustainability of water and wastewater systems can be achieved by using localised, water-saving alternatives.

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